Physocephala rufipes, male and female (from Kröber, 1925)



Physocephala have an petiolate abdomen with segment 2 long and narrow, the others broader and shorter. They resemble solitary wasps. Adults are frequent flower visitors, that are found on Composites, Umbellifers &c. Their larvae are endoparasites of Sphecidae, bees, bumble bees and social wasps.


1.a. Sides of thorax without silverish stripe -> 2

1.b. Side of thorax with silverish stripe, from the implant of the wing to the base of leg 2 -> 5

2.a. Face below antennal implant with a black stripe, above the antennal implant partly blackish -> 3

2.b. Face yellow, without black stripe below and blackish parts above antennal implant 9-16 mm. NL, B, D. -> Physocephala vittata Fabricius

Note: Kröber (1925) mentions P. curticornis which would key out to P. vittata but its antennae are short, just as long as the head, in contrast to the long antennae of P. vittata.

3.a. Face: black stripe below antennal implant rounded at its lower end; antennae blackish; hind edges of tergites 3-5 with wide, indistinqtly delimited dust bands which are clearly broader in the middle -> 4

3.b. Face: black stripe below antennal implant deeply forked into two arms; antennae red; femur uniformly reddish; hind edges of tergites 3-5 with narrow, clearly delimited dust bands of even width. 15-20 mm. NL, B, D. -> Physocephala nigra DeGeer

Head of P. rufipes, with black stripe rounded below and P. nigra, with black stripe forked below.

4.a. Femora 1-2 uniformly reddish. Female: abdomen black with reddish pattern in addition to the yellowish bands of dust. 10-18 mm. NL, B, D. -> Physocephala rufipes (Fabricius)

Femur 3 can basally be darkened.

4.b. Femora 1-2 blackish basally. Female: abdomen black with yellowish bands of dust. Southern Europe, up to southern Germany -> Physocephala laticincta (Brullé)

5.a. Wing: dark stripe does not directly border the front margin of the wing over its full length, the first wing cell whitish, hyaline or only weakly coloured, the dark stripe may almost lack; legs red, orange of yellow-red, base of tibia turning whitish -> 6

5.b. Wing: dark stripe borders the front margin of the wing over its full length; face yellow, below antennal implant often with dark patches; antennae dark brown; legs red-brown to blackish -> 8

6.a. Wing: dark stripe strong and well marked, in addition a dark spot at the wing tip; antennae black; abdomen: black with red parts on tergites 2-3, yellowish dust bands at the hind margin of all tergites; legs red. -> 7

6.b. Wing: dark stripe almost lacking and not well marked, no dark spot in wing tip; antennae red to red-brown; abdomen: in females largely redbrown, in males largely blackish, with yellowish dust bands at the hind margins of all tergites; legs yellow-red. 11-16 mm. -> Physocephala variegata Meigen

7.a. Face entirely yellow; first aristal segment obviously extended; dark wing band occupies the whole cell R2. 9.5-16 mm. Central and Southern Europe -> Physocephala chrysorrhoea Meigen

7.b. Face with two narrow black stripes along the facial keel; first aristal segment small; the dark wing band does not reach up to the end of cell R2. 9.5-16 mm. Central and Southern Europe -> Physocephala truncata Loew

8.a. 5-8 mm. -> Physocephala pusilla Meigen

8.b. 10-12 mm. -> Physocephala lacera Meigen

Note: I know that size is not very good to distinguish Conopids, they tend to vary the size with the host they had. However, it is all that is given in literature for know. It may well be a single species.



Stuke J.-H. 2005. Bestimmung und Taxonomie der palaarktischen Conopiden (Diptera) 1. Teil: Die Physocephala rufipes-Artengruppe. Studia dipterologica 12: 369-384.

Van Veen M. 1984. De Blaaskopvliegen en roofvliegen van Nederland en België. Jeugdbondsuitgeverij, Utrecht.

Last updated 31.03.2010